Manage your time like a psychopath

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Bookshelf of bad words
Bookshelf of bad words
I took this photo at Barnes & Noble yesterday. Bookstore staff curated collection.

I was planning to write about the importance of outsourcing and delegating tasks for successful time management. But, I got bored.

I was thinking, “You can read about this stuff anywhere.”

But it did get me thinking about how time management used to be difficult for me. I struggled to follow through on commitments related to my business growth. I just kept running out of time.

I used to work with a business coach. Each week, we would have our coaching call and I would proceed not to do all of the things I said were important for me to do for my business.

I would blame circumstances and people beyond my control.

She eventually fired me.

Yes, my coach, whom I was paying, fired me

Did I have a time management problem? Or, was it something else?

Things changed for me when I had no other choice but to succeed. I was unemployed, recently divorced and needed to pay my rent.
That’s when I dug up all of the notes, emails, and PDFs from my former business coach and got to work.

I didn’t have the luxury of not following through on the tasks that would make my business more profitable.
If you want me to tell you how to improve your time management, then I’m going to tell you to become desperate. That’s my own experience.

If you don’t want to wait until you’re desperate, then start taking a look at why you don’t make time for yourself. Now. Before you’re desperate. Maybe read a few of those books in the photo above?

Looking back now, I’m wondering why I had to become desperate in order to start saying “NO” to the time sucks in my life? Was there a better way?

Sometimes it’s easy

Earlier this week, I was at the grocery store eyeing the Kashi cereal selection when two young women approached me.

Excuse me, would you like to come to a Bible study with us?

“A what?”

We would like to invite you to our Bible study… to study the Bible.

“Oh. No. Thank you, though.”

They seemed to take my rejection well and kept moving.

I grabbed my box of cereal and proceeded to see them again in every other aisle of the grocery. In the first couple of passes, I gave them an awkward smile and a nod. But the smiling and nodding became exhausting.

Why did I even care in the first place? I decided not to care. It wasn’t that hard. They were OK. They had moved on. I could, too.

I said “no” to the Bible study invitation for the same reason I would have said “no” if they invited me to an expensive dinner at my favorite restaurant.

It’s not where I want to spend my time and attention. So it was easy to say “no.”

But what about the times when it’s hard to say “no”?

Sometimes I really want to say, “yes” but I need to say “no.” That’s when I feel bad about saying “no.” I realize I am responsible for making the other person’s life a little harder with my “no.”

I’m not exempt from being hooked on the approval of others. I can’t stand to disappoint.

When it comes to managing my time, I could benefit from being more like a psychopath.

After all, the psychopath’s unfeeling attitude of entitlement is their secret to business success. Psychopaths are driven to succeed in business at the expense of others. They lack the capacity for intimacy and empathy.

It’s not that I want to stop caring. I don’t want any of those psychopath attributes.

But sometimes, when I’m feeling worn down, the thought crosses my mind: I could use just a touch of the psychopath’s sense of entitlement.

Or at least the psychopath’s realization that she is not responsible for how the other person handles her refusal. That’s good stuff. I don’t want to feel responsible for how people handle my “no”.

Sometimes it’s easy to not feel responsible. The way I did in the grocery store with the Bible studiers. They moved on. There were OK. I moved on, too.
Does it put them out? Do they have to find someone else to go to that thing with? Or somebody else’s couch to crash on? Or someone else to work on their project?

Unlike a psychopath, I understand that that’s a pain. But I don’t take responsibility for creating that situation. Am I perfect at setting clear boundaries? No. But, that’s okay. I’m working on it and I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

I am serious about my full to-do list because I know that every single thing or person on my list is something or someone I want to spend time on.
Every single thing.

So, it serves me to protect my time a bit like a psychopath. With a sense of entitlement and less feeling responsible for others who might infringe upon my time.

Sure, there are times when plans fall apart and the time management thing goes to hell.

But times like that are not the norm. And, it is precisely because I say no to requests of my time that I am able to be there for my friends and family in times of need; without sacrificing my business.
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Emily Journey

Welcome to WebDev Success. I’m Emily Journey and this podcast is where I take a hard look at the challenges facing the website development industry. Learn how to attract loyal customers, how to raise your prices with confidence, and take steps to craft the work life you’ve always wanted. Subscribe, listen in and develop brilliantly.

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Hi, I’m Emily Journey. I founded and lead a website consulting agency with six coworkers. This blog is where I write about the things I’ve learned at my real job.
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